WILKES-BARRE — Since the Posten Taxi company closed last week, all four drivers who worked there have hitched a ride with the competition.
Robbie Burgit has hired the Posten drivers who lost their jobs last week and has ordered two new vehicles to bring his fleet to 18 cabs.
Burgit, 53, of Plains Township, owner of Burgit City Taxi Co., on Monday said he is not gloating over the demise of Posten.
“I want to assure that we continue to give first-class taxi service to the people of the Wilkes-Barre area,” he said.
John Katorkas, owner of Posten Taxi, announced Friday he was shutting down the business, citing a slow economy. Posten Taxi operated in the city since 1860. Katorkas was unavailable for comment on Monday.
Burgit said the taxi business has been on the decline over the last 20 years or so. He said most households have two or more cars, and reliance on public transportation has diminished. He said Internet shopping has also caused ridership to drop.
Despite the decline, Burgit said he has ordered two new cabs — he uses Kia Soul vehicles exclusively. He’ll add two more shortly to bring his fleet to 20. The cabs are white with black and red trim.
With the hiring of the four Posten drivers, Burgit has 34 full- and part-time drivers, plus three dispatchers and three clerical support staff at his hub on South Main Street.
Burgit said his goal is to provide service within 10 to 15 minutes of a call. The cab service operates seven days a week, year-round.
“Fast, that’s what gets it done,” Burgit said. “Not breaking the speed laws. I’m talking about quick response time and pickup.”
“I drove a cab for 25 years and I worked as a dispatcher,” Burgit said. The company was started 35 years ago by his father, Bob Burgit.
Burgit said it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a taxi company today.
He said between the cost for vehicles and insurances and compliance with state and federal regulations, opening a business can get very expensive.
Burgit said Posten’s closing will increase his business slightly and he may pick up a few contracts the company had with various agencies and businesses.
“But our emphasis is and always will be the riding public,” he said. “They have made us their top choice, and we earned it.”